AFTRA NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETS IN VIDEOCONFERENCE PLENARY
● Names New National Executive Director
● Approves Non-Broadcast/Industrial/Educational Code
● Moves to Confirm Interactive Media Strike Vote
● Forwards Restructuring Measures to National Convention
● Affirms AFTRA/TNG-CWA Joint Initiatives
Los Angeles, May 1, 2005 – The National Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) met in videoconference plenary session yesterday in Los Angeles and New York. During this first of three plenary sessions scheduled in 2005, two videoconferences and one face-to-face session, the National Board took the following actions:
After first naming Kim Roberts Hedgpeth National Executive Director of AFTRA – an action covered in an earlier release – Ms. Hedgpeth was named to the following posts: Trustee to the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, Trustee to the AFTRA Individual Account Plan (IAP), Trustee to the AFTRA-American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, Board Member to the AFTRA Foundation, and Board Member and Secretary to the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies.
The Board unanimously approved the recently negotiated Non-Broadcast/Industrial/ Educational (Non-Broadcast) Code. The new three-year pact, jointly negotiated with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), will go into effect on May 1, 2005, and will expire on April 30, 2008. Highlights of the deal include:
●4% increase in rates halfway through the term of the agreement; and
●An immediate increase in contribution rates to the Health & Retirement Funds.
The SAG National Board is expected to take similar action in early May.
Following a report on the status of negotiations for a successor Interactive Media Agreement, the Board authorized a strike referendum ballot be sent to members who work on video games produced under the AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement asking them to affirm the recent strike authorization vote taken by the joint AFTRA/SAG Interactive Caucus. AFTRA and SAG recently held member caucuses in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco where AFTRA members voted 95% to 5% in favor of authorizing a strike in the event bargaining fails. Confirmation ballots are scheduled to go out on May 2 and are due back by 12:00 noon on May 12. The final decision to actually call a strike rests with the National Board or its designee. Negotiations are scheduled to resume May 9 and the parties hope to reach a deal before the current, thrice-extended contract expires on Friday, May 13.
“We are pleased with the quick and successful outcome of the Non-Broadcast negotiations as this is a key area for Locals around the country,” AFTRA National President John P. Connolly noted. “While we hope for a similar conclusion to the ongoing Interactive Media negotiations, the performers who do this work have specific concerns, the elected leadership has heard them, and the union intends to do what it takes to achieve a contract that reflects and protects the needs and interests of its members.”
As part of AFTRA’s ongoing efforts to bring sharper focus to its operations and deploy its resources most effectively, the Board approved forwarding two proposed constitutional amendments to the National Convention, AFTRA’s highest governing body, scheduled to meet this summer, July 14-16, in Los Angeles. The first is a measure eliminating the requirement that the National headquarters be located in Manhattan. The second reduces the size of the National Board from its current 116 members to 73, plus elected officers. These two elements of an overall restructuring passed by the Board in July 2004, require approval by AFTRA’s National Convention in order to be implemented.
“The Board continues to grapple with the difficult challenges before it with integrity and courage,” observed National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. “This is about building an AFTRA meant to last.”
The Board was also advised of a continuing initiative with The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America (TNG-CWA) on behalf of journalists, which includes support of federal reporter shield laws, clear labeling of paid video news releases, prohibition on government payment for coverage of partisan initiatives, and a code of rights and responsibilities for work in the news media. The union’s Broadcast Steering Committee is working in conjunction with the Legislative and Public Affairs Committee on these projects.
President Connolly observed, “AFTRA’s continuing goal is to link up with organizations like TNG-CWA that share our commitment to free speech, free press, and the free flow of information. Such relationships are vital in protecting not only the rights of AFTRA members, but those of journalists everywhere and, indeed, the freedoms necessary to ensure a democratic society. We are proud to partner with our brothers and sisters in TNG-CWA and we look forward to a long collaboration.”
Other actions taken by the Board at today’s meeting:
●A report on preparations for this summer’s biennial National Convention. Among the many guests scheduled to address the Convention is Commissioner Michael J. Copps of the Federal Communications Commission who will deliver the keynote address, Friday, July 15; and
● A report on the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds.
The AFTRA National Board will next meet in face-to-face plenary session in Los Angeles on July 11 and 12.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – affiliated with the AFL-CIO – is a diverse national union representing nearly 80,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists in 32 Locals throughout the country. AFTRA members work as actors, broadcast journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians and disc jockeys in all aspects of the media industries including television and radio, sound recordings, commercials, industrial non-broadcast, interactive games and the Internet. For more information, visit www.aftra.com.